Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden said he'll continue to "work [his] butt off" while with the team after a roller-coaster offseason, but can his relationship with president of basketball operations Daryl Morey be salvaged?
"No," Harden said Friday via video shared on social media by the Philadelphia Inquirer's Keith Pompey.
"My whole thing was I wanted to retire a Sixer and the front office didn't have that in their future plans," said Harden, who indicated a lack of communication since the playoffs caused the relationship to go south. "It's literally out of my control. It's something I didn't want to happen ... But I've got to make a decision for my family. I understand this is a business. It's just as simple as that. If I'm here today, I'll work my butt off and do the things necessary as a professional as I've been doing for 15 years."
Harden's work in practice has been professional, as head coach Nick Nurse expected.
"It's been exactly the same," he said. "He's been really good in practice. I know he's working extremely hard almost every night, like the workouts at night are really intense as well. And we're just going day-by-day."
Harden's summer saw him pick up his $35.6 million player option with the expectation the 76ers would trade him, preferably to the Los Angeles Clippers. That never materialized and the team planned to bring him back for training camp. While at an event in China in July, the 10-time NBA All-Star and 2018 MVP called Morey a "liar," which led to a $100,000 fine from the league for "indicating that he would not perform the services called for under his player contract unless traded to another team."
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that week the Clippers remain in pursuit of Harden, who can become a free agent next summer, and have offered their unprotected 2028 first-rounder in order to bolster a trade package.
Wojnarowski also reported Morey's "motivation is whatever he gets from the Clippers [in a potential trade], he wants to be able to flip that for another All-Star-level guard that he could replace James Harden with."
It seems like all roads lead to Harden's exit out of Philadelphia. It's just a matter of how long it's going to take for a trade to come together.
For now, Harden and Morey have a damaged relationship that looks unlikely to be repaired.
“This is not even about in this situation, this is in life," Harden said. "When you lose trust in someone, it’s like a marriage. You lose trust in someone, you know what I mean? It’s pretty simple.”